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Local seniors score new digs

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The Highland Village All-Stars and Flower Mound’s Seniors In Motion (SIM) senior programs both got their starts in 2005. Each group was created by seniors gathering in someone’s kitchen to share ideas about social activities for fellow residents aged 55 and older.

“We moved here to be closer to our family and there were always active senior programs in the communities we’d lived,” said All-Star co-founder Calvin Clark. “My wife Millie has always been involved in things and starting a seniors’ group was something we felt needed to happen.”

Five years later, the All-Stars new permanent home, in the Robert & Lee DuVall Center, held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Highland Village voters approved a bond election in 2007 to renovate the old fire station – located at 948 Highland Village Road – into a multi-purpose building. The new building is 9,800 sq. ft. total – 1,800 sq. ft. is administrative office with the remaining 8,000 sq. ft. dedicated to public/community center area.

 “The city was very supportive and gave us a room and a start-up budget to help us,” said Clark.

The All-Stars had a much smaller physical home in the beginning. Initially they met weekly in the Municipal Complex training room, then the city rented the Highland Shores Community Center meeting room as the group grew and needed more space. The All-Stars have been meeting there and once a month at the Municipal Complex in the Council Chambers.

“This facility is the ultimate recycle project,” said Mayor Scott McDearmont, “when the voters approved the construction of a new fire station we had the perfect opportunity to expand the uses and programming of a good facility.”

The 8,000 sq. ft. public/community center area includes a board room, a pickle ball court area that can also be used as a large assembly/activity room, two activity rooms and a kitchen area.

The grounds have also been updated to safely capture storm water and a masonry wall was built to ensure the facility will be a good neighbor to the adjacent residential areas.

As the new home for the city’s Parks and Recreation administrative staff, it will also house the utility, streets and drainage departments. Previously these departments worked out of trailers at this location.

The city provides all the furniture for the facility, including tables and chairs for the assembly, meeting and activity rooms.

“The Robert & Lee DuVall Center meets the current needs of the Senior All-Stars, as well as provides the opportunity for recreation programming for our residents by maximizing the use of a public facility at a minimal cost,” said McDearmont.

“Our past attendance for some events has been restricted to only 60 or so people by the fire marshal, but we have three times that number of enrolled members,” said Clark.

“Research has proven that seniors who interact with the same people on a regular basis are much healthier than those elderly who don’t have a social environment. Last week I played cards with a 101-year-old woman; I won’t tell you who won.”

The Robert & Lee DuVall Center was named after the first mayor of Highland Village and will be open to the public on Monday, Oct. 18. The All-Stars will hold its public Open House on Saturday, Nov. 6, from 1-6 p.m. For information on the Senior All-Stars activities, or to rent the facility, call 972-317-7430.

“The Flower Mound SIM group began over five years ago when 10 to 12 people were gathered around [former mayor] Jody Smith’s kitchen table to compare ideas about senior activities for Flower Mound,” said Doug Brown, SIM co-founder and member of the SIM Advisory Board. “We’d been going to the senior center in Lewisville and felt that Flower Mound had a large enough population to have its own senior program.”

The first SIM meetings and activities were held in the Flower Mound Community Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays which the town rented for $100 a week. After the Flower Mound Community Activities Center (CAC) opening on June 20, 2008, the town moved the senior group to a space which had originally been designed to house other activities.

“We scheduled different activities and introduced social luncheons on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month as a way to include seniors who may not be interested in joining an activity-based activity,” said Brown. “Our lunches have been a mix from Metroport meals and various local restaurants, like Salerno’s and Fish City Grill, which are served to about 150 people. Although we have more than 600 SIM members, room size has restricted participation for some things.”

Although the SIM group is part of the Parks Department, the activities are under the direction of Senior Program Supervisor Jeff White with the CAC. Financial concerns have been the traditional stumbling block to building a senior center in Flower Mound. The original Town Hall building at the intersection of Morriss Road and FM 1171 has been earmarked as the interim facility to house senior activities. The building is being renovated using insurance money received following the June 2009 tornado damage it sustained.

“The new building will have 4,200 sq. feet, which is twice the size of the ‘Golden Lounge’ space,” said SIM Advisory Board President Tom Goad. “It will also have a full commercial-grade kitchen.”

The Town of Flower Mound has incorporated input from SIM group members into the design of their new facility.

“The SIM board members toured the building and then selected the third of three designs Halff Associates presented recently at the 30-percent stage,” explained Gary Sims, Flower Mound executive director of community services, who helped build senior centers in several communities, including Lancaster and Coppell. “They’ll re-visit the drawings at the 70-percent completion point in about two to three months, which will then go to construction bids when finalized.”

Seniors In Motion expects to move to its third temporary facility in late May 2011.

“No, it’s not everything that we all want, but until the town’s budget improves it will give the seniors a space dedicated just for them and it doubles the space they have now,” said Sims. “They can still use the CAC facility and with more space to be open there can be additional programming and then their numbers can grow.”

The SIM Auxiliary (SIMA) was created in 2009 as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization to raise funds to furnish the inside of a senior center in Flower Mound and support Seniors in Motion. The group has a separate advisory board under the leadership of Mary Kay Walker who volunteered at the initial meeting held by councilman Tom Hayden.

“I created the 501 (c) 3 nonprofit and CoServ gave us a start-up grant for a website, a computer and printing,” said Walker. “A fashion show was just held at Belk’s and a special contribution day will be on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at IHOP in anticipation of a fundraising event – ‘IHOP at the Sock Hop,’ a 1950s-themed dinner, dance and raffle – scheduled for Nov. 13.”

After SIMA was designated as the nonprofit organization to raise funds supporting SIM, it was proposed that there be a liaison to represent them in a non-voting, advisory ex officio role on each other’s board to communicate and coordinate overall goals.

“Having a representative from SIM hasn’t happened yet,” said Walker. “But I attend all their meetings and give them a full report on what SIMA is doing.”

The SIM Auxiliary “IHOP at the Sock Hop” fundraiser is Saturday, Nov. 13, at Pinewood Hills, 3901 Kirkpatrick Lane in Flower Mound. SIM Auxiliary Inc., is seeking businesses to co-sponsor the 1950s-themed dinner, dance and raffle. For more information, please contact Mary Kay Walker at 214-417-8939 or amkwalker@verizon.net. The Golden Lounge is at the Flower Mound C
ommunity Activities Center, 1200 Gerault Road. For more information on activities or the Seniors In Motion program, call 972-874-6275.

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